Houseguest Hell

Question: Dear Luise: A former work acquaintance of my husband’s and his wife are staying with us. They live in another state where we lived, too, before we retired. When we go down there, they do not invite us to stay with them. They offered to pay for half the food and then they bought wine and appetizers, which we don’t partake of. And today they moved some of our furniture around. She doesn’t pick up after either of them. He often talks in a very flattering way which feels insincere and manipulative to me. Help! Cori

Answer: Dear Cori: Well, one thing we can say about this couple is that they sure know how to take care of themselves. It sounds like they are very comfortable. The tone of your question leads me to believe that you are not an outspoken person, or this situation would have been resolved some time ago and they’d be long-gone. You can’t change how you are and, and unfortunately, they probably aren’t going to change, either. In fact, why should they…everything’s fine from their standpoint.

I think the only way that I can help you is to point you in the direction of the lessons you can learn from this, if you want to. It’s clear you’re not going to ask them to leave. Being polite is a lost cause, if it’s one-sided. Can you see that? You are gracious and they are crass, not a good mix. It’s time to learn to say no. There’s a lot of people-pleasing going on and you are directly responsible for your own present misery. However, it’s never too late to learn to separate your friends from your acquaintances and to find ways to protect the sanctity of your home. In the future, when someone says they’re coming your way, ask if you can help them find local accommodations. Tell anyone you do not want as your houseguest that you don’t do the “hostess thing” very often since you retired. If you need to, fend off an open bid for an invitation that catches you by surprise by saying that you need to check with your husband. Then talk with him and decide your course of action together. He might even be willing to return the call. Don’t do this to yourself! What’s the point? Blessings, Luise

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